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Pooper snoopers to battle dirty dog owners

PUBLISHED: 06:52 23 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:12 14 October 2010

UNDERCOVER council spies have begun prowling Islington's streets and parks in a new bid to catch out dog owners who allow their pets to foul the pavements. The new 'pooper snoopers' are ditching their maroon uniforms and high visibility vests in favour of

UNDERCOVER council spies have begun prowling Islington's streets and parks in a new bid to catch out dog owners who allow their pets to foul the pavements.

The new "pooper snoopers" are ditching their maroon uniforms and high visibility vests in favour of plain clothes in problem areas - as Islington Council steps up its war on dog mess by looking to slap more £80 fines on irresponsible owners.

Since April, the 20-strong team has handed out 62 fixed penalty notices for dog fouling - all of which have been paid.

The new tactic will allow them to target persistent offenders who so far have avoided capture.

Councillor Paul Smith, the Labour-controlled council's executive member for environment, said: "We're taking action on behalf of the vast majority of our residents, who like us are totally sick of dog mess.

"There's no excuse for letting dogs foul our streets and parks. It's disgusting and dangerous, yet a mindless few still let it happen.

"Uniformed officers do a good job but plain clothes enforcement staff will find it easier to catch that selfish hard core who don't care about anyone else."

Uniformed patrols are continuing as normal, but from this week undercover officers are targeting parks and streets where there are ongoing problems. Spa Fields, Highbury Fields, Newington Green, Tollington Park, Copenhagen Street, Caledonian Road, Junction Road, Market Road and York Way are among the hotspot areas currently in the firing line. All enforcement officers carry council identification cards, but some dog experts feel there is still potential for trouble.

Crufts-winning owner Robert Stuhldreer, who lives in Dunford Road, Holloway, and is co-founder of the Akita Rescue and Welfare Trust, said: "It's positive that Islington Council is being pro-active about dog fouling but using undercover officers seems quite draconian. I'm not sure I'd care to be approached by somebody in plain clothes.

"People will be apprehensive and suspicious and I don't think the sort of people who allow their dogs to foul the pavement will react well to being told what to do by someone without a uniform. I think Islington Council would be better off providing poo bag dispensers like Haringey Council does in Finsbury Park, and educating youngsters in schools."

But Octavia Jennings, a dog onwning member of the Highbury Fields Association committee, says only irresponsible owners should fear the covert patrols. "As a result of council introducing a number of measures to encourage dog owners to keep our parks clean, the majority now clean up after their dogs," she said. "Sadly, there are still a few persistent offenders.

"Responsible dog owners will not be affected by plain clothes patrol officers and hopefully this initiative will deter the few inconsiderate dog owners who allow their dogs to foul our parks and pavements."

Eye-catching adverts by Keep Britain Tidy also went up in Islington this week to remind people that "there's no such thing as the dog poo fairy". Phil Barton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: "A large percentage of the public are unsure as to where they can bin their dog's mess -the simple message is any general litter bin."

To report dog fouling or irresponsible owners in Islington, call 020 7527 2000.


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